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let for seventy) we took in Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, and his family, who were to pay a considerable part of it to us, and we to board with them. We had scarce opened our letters and put our press in order, before George House, an acquaintance of mine, brought a countryman to us, whom he had met in the street, enquiring for a printer. All our cash was now expended in the variety of particulars we had been obliged to procure, and this countryman's five shillings, being our firstfruits, and coming so seasonably, gave me more pleasure than any crown I have since earned; and from the gratitude I felt towards House, has made me often more ready, than perhaps I otherwise should have been to assist young beginners.
There are croakers in every country always boding its ruin. Such an one there lived in Philadelphia, a person of note, an elderly man, with a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name was Samuel Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopped me one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new printing-house? Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense would be lost, for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half bankrupts, or near being so; all the appearances of the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents being to his certain knowledge fallacious; for they were in fact among the things that would ruin us. Then he gave me such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half melancholy. Had I known him before I engaged in this business, probably I never should have done it. This person continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there, because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five-times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first began croaking.
I should have mentioned before, that in the autumn of the preceding year, I had formed most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club for mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up1 required that every member in his turn should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discussed by the company: and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject ike pleased. Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of enquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory; and to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.
1 See Appendix, No. 2.
The first members were, Joseph Breintnal, a copyer of deeds for the scriveners, a good natured friendly middle aged man, a great lover of poetry, reading all he could meet with, and writing some that was tolerable; very ingenious in making little nicknackeries, and of sensible conversation.
Thomas Godfrey, a self-taught mathematician, great in his way, and afterwards inventor of what is now called Hadley's Quadrant. But he knew little out of his way, and was not a pleasing companion; as, like most great mathematicians I have met with, he expected universal precision in every thing said, or was for ever denying or distinguishing upon trifles, to the disturbance of all conversation; he soon left us.
Nicholas Scull, a surveyor, afterwards surveyor general, who loved books, and sometimes made a few verses.
William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but loving reading, had acquired a considerable share of mathematics, which he first studied with a view to astrology, and afterwards laughed at it. He also became surveyor general.
William Maugridge, joiner, but a most exquisite mechanic, and a solid, sensible man.
Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb I have characterised before. Robert Grace, a young gentleman of some fortune, generous, lively and witty; a lover of punning and of his friends.
Lastly, William Coleman, then the merchant's clerk, about my age, who had the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of almost any man I ever met with. He became afterwards a merchant of great note, and one of our provincial judges. Our friendship continued without interruption to his death, upwards of 40 years; and the club continued almost as long, and was the best school of philosophy, morality, and politics, that then existed in the province: for our queries: (which were read the week preceding their discussion): put us upon reading with attention on the several subjects, that we might speak more to the purpose: and here too, we acquired better habits of conversation, every thing being studied m our rules which might prevent our disgusting each other: hence the long continuance of the club, which I shall have frequent occasion to speak further of hereafter. But my giving this account of it here, is to shew something of the interest I had, every one of these exerting themselves in recommending business to us. Breintnal particularly procured us from the Quakers the printing 40 sheets of their history, the rest being to be done by Keimer; and upon these we worked exceeding hard, for the price was low. It was a folio, pro patria size, in pica, with long-primer notes. I composed a sheet a day, and Meredith worked it off at press; it was often eleven at night, and sometimes later before I had finished my distribution for the next day's work. For the little jobs sent in by our other friends now and then put us back. But so determined I was to continue doing a sheet a day of the folio, that one night when having imposed my forms, I thought my day's work over, one of them by accident was broken, and two pages reduced to pie. I immediately distributed, and composed it over again before I went to bed: and this industry, visible to our neighbours, began to give us character and credit; particularly I was told, that mention being made of the new printing-office, at the merchants' every-night club, the general opinion was that it must fail, there being already two printers in the place, Keimer and Bradford; but Dr. Baird, (whom you and I saw many years after at his native place, St. Andrew's in Scotland) gave a contrary opinion; "For the industry of that Franklin," said he, "is superior to any thing I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbours are out of bed." This struck the rest, and we soon after had offers from one of them to supply us with stationary; but as yet we did not chuse to engage in shop business.
I mentioned this industry the more particularly and the more freely, though it seems to be talking in my own praise, that those of my posterity who shall read it, may know the use of that virtue, when they see its effects in my favor throughout this relation.
George Webb, who had found a female friend that lent him wherewith to purchase his time of Keimer, now came to offer himself as a journeyman to us. We could not then employ him, but I foolishly let him know as a secret, that I soon intended to begin a newspaper, and might then have work for him. My hopes of success, as I told him, were founded on this; that the then only newspaper printed by Bradford, was a paltry thing, wretchedly managed, no way entertaining, and yet was profitable to him; I therefore freely thought a good paper would scarcely fail of good encouragement. I requested Webb not to mention it, but he told it to Keimer, who immediately, to be beforehand with me, published proposals for one himself, on which Webb was to be employed. I was vexed at this, and to counteract them, not being able to commence our paper, I wrote several amusing pieces for Bradford's Vol. I. G
paper, under the title of the Busy Body,1 which Breintnal continued some months. By this means the attention of the public was fixed on that paper, and Keimer's proposals, which we burlesqued and ridiculed, were disregarded. He began his paper however, and before carrying it on three quarters of a year, with at most only 90 subscribers, he offered it me for a trifle; and I, having been ready some time to go on with it, took it in hand directly; and it proved in a few years extremely profitable to me.
I perceive that I am apt to speak in the singular number, though our partnership still continued; it may be that in fact the whole management of the business lay upon me. Meredith was no compositor, a poor pressman, and seldom sober. My friends lamented my connexion with him, but I was to make the best of it.
Our first papers made quite a different appearance from any before in the province; a better type and better printed: but some remarks * of my writing on the dispute then going on between Governor Burnet, and the Massachusetts Assembly, struck the principal people, occasioned the paper and the manager of it to be much talked of, and in a few weeks brought them all to be our subscribers.
* See Appendix to Life, No. 3. 2 "His Excellency Governor Burnet, died unexpectedly
about two days after the date of this reply to his last message; and it was thought the dispute would have ended with him, or at least have lain dormant till the arrival of a new governor from England, who possibly might or might not be inclined to enter too vigorously into the measures of his predecessor. But our last advices by the post acquaint us, that his Honor, the Lieutenant Governor, (on whom the government immediately devolves upon the death or absence of the Commander-in-Chief,) has vigorously renewed the struggle on his own account, of which the particulars will be seen in our next.
"Perhaps some of our readers may not fully understand the original ground of this warm contest between the governor and assembly. It seems that people have for these 100 years past enjoyed the privilege of rewarding the governor for the time being, according to their sense of his merit and services; and few or none of their governors have complained, or had cause to complain, of a scanty allowance. When the late Governor Burnet brought with him instructions to demand a settled salary of 1000 pounds sterling per annum, on him and all his successors, and the assembly were required to fix it immediately: He insisted on it strenuously to the last, and they as constantly refused it. It appears by their votes and proceedings that they thought it an imposition, contrary to their own charter, and to Magna Charta; and they judged that there should be a mutual dependence between the governor and governed; and that to make the governor independent would be dangerous and destructive to their liberties, and the ready way to establish tyranny. They thought likewise that the province was not the less dependent on the crown of Great Britain, by the governor's depending immediately on them, and his own good conduct, for an ample support; because all acts and laws, which he might be induced to pass, must nevertheless be constantly sent home for approbation in order to continue in force. Many other reasons were given, and arguments used in the course of the controversy, needless to particularise here, because all the material papers relating to it have been already given in our public news.
"Much deserved praise has the deceased governor received for his steady integrity in adhering to his instructions, notwithstanding the great difficulty and opposition he met with, and the strong temptations offered from time to time to induce him to give up the point. And yet, perhaps, something is due to the assembly, (as the love and zeal of that country for the present establishment is too well known to suffer any suspicion of want of loyalty) who continue thus resolutely to abide by what they think their right, and that of the people they represent; maugre all the arts and menaces of a governor famed for his cunning and politics, backed with instructions from home, and powerfully aided by the great advantage such an officer always has of engaging the principal men of a place in his party, by conferring where he pleases, so many posts of profit and honor. Their happy mother country will perhaps observe with pleasure, that though her gallant cocks, and matchless dogs abate their natural fire and intrepidity, when transported to a foreign clime, (as this nation is) yet her Sons in the remotest part of the earth, and even to the 3d and 4th descent, still retain that ardent spirit of liberty, and that undaunted courage, which has in every age so gloriously distinguished Britons and Englishmen, from the rest of mankind." 'I afterwards obtained for his son_^re hundred pounds.
Their example was followed by many, and our number went on growing continually. This was one of the first good effects of my having learned a little to scribble; another was, that the leading men seeing a newspaper, now in the hands of those who could also handle a pen, thought it convenient to oblige and encourage me. Bradford still printed the votes, and laws, and other public business. He had printed an address of the house to the governor, in a coarse, blundering manner: we reprinted it elegantly and correctly, and sent one to every member. They were sensible of the difference, it strengthened the hands of our friends in the house, and they voted us their printers for the year ensuing.
Among my friends in the house, I must not forget Mr. Hamilton, before mentioned, who was then returned from England, and had a seat in it. He interested himself for me strongly in that instance, as he did in many others afterwards, continuing his patronage till his death.'
Mr. Vernon, about this time, put me in mind of the debt I owed him, but did not press me. I wrote him an ingenuous letter of acknowledgment, craving his forbearance a little longer, which he allowed me; as soon as I was able I paid the principal with the interest, and many thanks: so that erratum was in some degree corrected.
But now another difficulty came upon me, which I had never the least reason to expect. Mr. Meredith's father, who was to have paid for our printing-house, according to the expectations given me, was able to advance only one hundred pounds currency, which had been paid ; and a hundred more was due to the merchant, who